Delaware community centers get $69.5 million in pandemic relief grants

The money will help 29 agencies statewide build and renovate facilities to help residents with work, education, and health monitoring.

Volunteers sorting food at a food bank.

File - Volunteers are seen at the Food Bank of Delaware in 2019. The Food Bank of Delaware is one of the organizations receiving money from the American Rescue Plan Act’s Capital Projects Fund. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

More than two dozen community centers and nonprofit agencies in Delaware will share $69.5 million in federal pandemic relief funds to build and renovate facilities to help residents with work, education, and health monitoring, state and White House officials announced Monday.

The money comes from the American Rescue Plan Act’s Capital Projects Fund which was created to help towns and cities hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a happy, happy day,’’ Gov. John Carney said during a Zoom call with the state’s congressional delegation and Gene Sperling, senior adviser to their hometown president, Joe Biden.

Noting that the money is only part of nearly $1 billion in pandemic relief funds his state has received, Carney said these particular dollars will be spent on “addressing problems in all of our communities, particularly diverse and underserved communities.”

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To that end, the 29 grants and their recipients include:

  • $20 million to Community Education Center South in Seaford to redevelop the former Nylon Capital Shopping Center.
  • $7.4 million to the Food Bank of Delaware to build a new facility in Milford and expand the one in Newark.
  • $7 million to the Forum to Advance Minorities in Engineering for a new headquarters to enhance skills training, job placement, and other programs.
  • $4.5 million to Wilmington’s Christina Cultural Arts Center to purchase and develop a new facility for children and families.
  • $4 million to the Claymont Community Center to upgrade facilities and buy client transport vehicles.
  • $4 million to Northeast Wilmington’s Kingswood Community Center for multipurpose community space.
  • $1.6 million to nine Boys and Girls Club locations for upgrades to heating and air conditioning systems and outdoor playgrounds.

Tens of millions more will go to agencies that help residents deal with substance abuse, disabilities, memory loss, homelessness, food insecurity, and other issues. Here’s a full list with a map.

As the state grappled with COVID-19, Carney said, the organizations getting funded “came up big during the pandemic with children not in school for those months. They were able to go to these community centers in a safe way.”

But, the governor stressed, “we still need to build on that.”

U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester seconded that notion.

“We are really rescuing our communities and looking toward the future,’’ Blunt Rochester said. “This is about helping our community centers, job training sites, food banks, even programs that deal with the arts, our youth, our seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, small businesses. This impacts all of us in Delaware.”

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The new grants augment $40 million that went to libraries for similar purposes and expanding high-speed internet access.

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